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Dark Life Book 2: Rip Tide
Dark Life Book 2: Rip Tide
by Kat Falls
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.68
64 used & new from $0.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Life was good - Rip Tide is even better!, June 29, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Kat Falls' Rip Tide is the sequel to her first novel, Dark Life. I picked up Dark Life on a whim and liked it quite a bit, enough to order Rip Tide because I wanted to read more about the characters and about the undersea world they inhabit. To my surprise and even more to my delight, the sequel proved to be even better than the first book.

In the near-future world of Dark Life, we were introduced to Ty Townson, a fifteen-year-old boy living in the pioneer undersea colony of Benthic Territory, which is located on the ocean floor somewhere off the east coast of the US. Or rather, what was the east coast until a big chunk of it ended up under water due to rising sea levels. His parents were among the first generation to leave the surface world and settle homesteads in the territory, but Ty has lived there almost his entire life. For him and his younger sister Zoe, the undersea world of the territory is _home_. We also met Gemma, a "Topsider" (someone from the surface world) girl Ty's age who came undersea to look for her missing older brother, Richard, whom she discovered now goes by the name of Shade and is the head of a band of outlaws called the Seablite Gang. And we learned about how the children who grow up undersea seem to acquire Dark Gifts - special abilities like Ty's bio-sonar and Zoe's ability to deliver electric shocks - that they don't want people to know about for fear of ending up being treated like lab rats.

Rip Tide begins just a few months after where Dark Life ended, with the story once again being told from Ty's point of view. Ty's parents are in the process of opening a new market for Benthic Territory settlers' crops. But it's not as simple as it sounds as the potential buyers are the "surfs", a group of sea dwellers who live in enormous globe-shaped floating vessels called townships (literally town-ships) and are viewed with wary suspicion at best by most settlers. And who in turn view most settlers with equal suspicion and often with open hostility, not, as it turns out, without reason. Things quickly go downhill when Ty discovers a sunken township that has been sabotaged and chained to the sea floor, and later when his parents are kidnapped by the very surfs they were meeting with to negotiate the trade deal. And on top of finding his parents and solving the mystery of who's been attacking the surfers' towhships, Ty also has to figure out what's going on with Gemma who seems to have developed sudden but intense panic attacks while deep sea diving. Which is a real problem for an undersea boy like Ty since he's also having typical fifteen-year-old boy problems figuring out how he feels about Gemma and just what he should do about it.

What I particularly liked about Rip Tide was how Falls brings out YA issues like learning to see the world differently as new experiences give you new perspectives, even when those perspectives are things you don't want to believe. And like having to make decisions even when you're not sure of the outcome, trying to figure out who you can trust and how much, and learning that even people whom you think you know can still end up surprising you.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good scifi novel with engaging characters and particularly for anyone who likes a story set in the other great frontier, the world under the sea..

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
DVD ~ Simon Abkarian
Price: $22.02
13 used & new from $18.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kafka-esque nightmare of Israeli divorce, June 19, 2015
Written and directed by Ronit Elkabetz and her brother Shlomi Elkabetz, Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is a fascinating look into something few people outside of Israel are familiar: the Kafka-esque nightmare a woman has to go through get a divorce in Israel if her husband is unwilling to grant one. (Note: the word "Gett" is the Hebrew word for the divorce document that the husband must present to the wife granting the divorce.)

A bit of background is necessary. Because of its complex history, Israel's system of marriage and divorce laws essentially date back to when it was part of the Ottoman Empire and only religious marriages were considered valid. For Jews, that meant strict orthodox rules govern both marriage and divorce. And because in modern Israel no single political party has enough clout to form a government by itself, it has always been necessary for the larger parties to form coalitions with smaller parties in order to have enough votes to form a government. This gives the smaller parties a level of influence completely out of proportion to their size, in particular the orthodox religious parties. As a result, even though only about 20% of Israeli Jews are Orthodox, Orthodox Judaism has control over all marriage and divorce among Jewish Israelis. There is no secular marriage for Jews in Israel (unless they get married outside of Israel, which many choose to do). Any application for divorce in Israel goes to a rabbinical court, which decides the matter based on orthodox religious law. Which makes divorce difficult in general and extremely difficult if one party is unwilling to cooperate.

The film opens in an Israeli rabbinical court where we first meet Viviane Amsalem (compellingly played by Ronit Elkabetz), an Israeli woman who has been trying - unsuccessfully - for three years to get a divorce from her cold manipulative husband of twenty years, Elisha (Simon Abkarian). Viviane is represented by a sympathetic secular lawyer, Carmel Ben Tovim (Menahe Noy). Her husband is being represented by his older brother, Shimon (Sasson Gabai), a buffoonish self-appointed lawyer who is nonetheless sly enough to know how to say the things he knows the court's rabbinical judges want to hear.

And what the rabbinical judges really want is for Viviane to quit bothering them and go back to her husband. With absurdist repetition, the hearing gets delayed again and again when Elisha first refuses to show up, then appears but refuses to cooperate, or cooperates only to delay the process, each delay enabled by the decisions of the judges. By orthodox law, the grounds for divorce are extremely limited, and do not include things like incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, or even mental or emotional cruelty, all of which are manifestly evident in Viviane's unfortunate marriage. The judges piously claim their hands are tied by the law, but it is clear at every moment that the law and the judges favor the husband. Every session ends with the case unresolved, a quick fade-to-black, and then the trial resumes with a notation reading "two months later" or "three months later" or "six."

Taking place entirely either in the small spare courtroom or the waiting room outside, Gett has a very stark and claustrophobic feel to it, which works in subtle ways to make the viewer feel how Viviane feels - trapped in an endless legalistic maze with a husband she desperately wants to get away from. The starkness is accentuated by a complete absence of a musical score. At 115 minutes, the film is not really that long, but the endless continuations from one court date to the next with constant delays and setbacks make it feel much longer, which also makes the viewer feel how Viviane feels, that this nightmare will never end.

The acting is in a word, superb. Ronit Elkabetz's Viviane is a study in endurance pushed to its limits, pushed to the breaking point at times when she either explodes in rage or breaks into barely controlled laughter at the absurdity of it all, like when her sister testifies loudly and in humiliating detail what her marriage to Elisha is like, ignoring and at times bulldozing right over the rabbinical judges' efforts to shut her up. Simon Abkarian's Elisha is a more subtle study, done with nuanced facial expressions and telling glances that show far better than words how manipulative he is and how, though he insists he loves Viviane, he has no real understanding of what the word even means.

Note: Though Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem as a film stands on its own, apparently it is also the final part of a trilogy written and directed by the Elkabetz siblings. I cannot comment personally on the first two films, not having seen either of them, but from what I've read, in 2004's "To Take a Wife," Viviane is a young mother but her marriage to Elisha is already stressed, and in the second film, 2008's "7 Days," more conflict emerges as the extended family sits shiva over the death of one of her brothers.

Highly, highly recommended.

When Marnie Was There - When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marnie) (2DVDS) [Japan DVD] VWDZ-8216
When Marnie Was There - When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marnie) (2DVDS) [Japan DVD] VWDZ-8216
19 used & new from $42.93

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Ghibli-style animation but pace is overly slow, June 12, 2015
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (The Secret World of Arrietty) from a screenplay by Yonebayashi, Keiko Niwa and Masashi Ando, When Marnie Was There is the latest film from Studio Ghibli. Based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Joan G. Robinson, When Marnie Was There tells the story of Anna, a twelve-year-old girl who spends a summer out in a small rural seaside town where she's been sent for her health. And where she comes across an old house and a mystery that tug at her for some reason.

My only problem with When Marnie Was There was that I found the pacing to be overly slow, particularly in the first half of the film. The result is that while the run-time is only 103 minutes, which is actually shorter than some other recent Studio Ghibli films like The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and The Wind Rises, it felt longer

Recommended for anyone who loves Studio Ghibli animation.

Dark Life: Book 1
Dark Life: Book 1
by Kat Falls
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.81
107 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging and highly readable YA sci-fi novel set in the other new frontier: the ocean floor, June 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dark Life: Book 1 (Paperback)
I picked up Kat Falls' Dark Life on a whim and was very pleased to find it to be well worth the money. Falls is a relatively new author (to me, anyway) and Dark Life was her debut novel.

Ty is a fifteen-year-old boy living in the pioneer undersea colony of Benthic Territory, which is located on the ocean floor somewhere off the east coast of the US. Or rather, what was the east coast until a big chunk of it ended up under water due to rising sea levels. His parents were among the first generation to leave the surface world and settle homesteads in the territory, but Ty has lived there almost his entire life. For him and his younger sister Zoe, the undersea world of the territory is _home_.

For the most part, life in the territory is good. Or was until Ty comes across a derelict sub on the edge of the territory, a prospector's sub that was apparently attacked by an outlaw band called the Seablite Gang. As Ty investigates the sub, the situation immediately becomes further complicated when he unexpectedly runs into a "Topsider" (someone from the surface world) on the sub, a girl his own age named Gemma who's come down into his world looking for her missing older brother.

The author, Falls, is very good at immediately immersing you in the world of Dark Life, bringing it vividly into reality around the reader from the very beginning:

"I peered into the deep-sea canyon, hoping to spot a toppled skyscraper. Maybe even the Statue of Liberty. But there was no sign of the old East Coast, just a sheer drop into darkness.
--A ball of light shot past me - a vampire squid, trailing neon blue. The glowing cloud swirled around my helmet. Careful not to break it up, I drifted onto my knees, mesmerized. But my trance was cut short by a series of green sparks bursting out of the gorge. I fell back, every muscle in my body tense. Only one fish glittered like an emerald and traveled in a pack: the green lantern shark. Twelve inches long and deadly as piranhas, they could rip apart something twenty times their size. Forget what they could do to a human.
--I should have seen them coming, even this deep. I should have known the squid had squirted its radiant goo to divert a predator. And now my helmet's crown lights served as an even brighter beacon. With a jab to my wrist screen, I snapped them off, but it was too late - I couldn't unring that dinner bell.
--I pried a flare gun from my belt and fired into the midst of the electric green frenzy. Two heartbeats later, light exploded over the canyon, shocking the sharks into stillness, eyes and teeth glittering. Quickly, I scooped the anchor of my mantaboard out of the muck and hauled myself onto it. Lying on my stomach with my legs dangling, I twisted the handgrips and took off, making serious wake. If my lungs hadn't been filled with Liquigen, I would've whooped aloud.
--Not that I was in the clear. As soon as the flare died, the sharks would be on me like suckerfish on a whale. I thought about burying myself in the thick ooze of the sea floor. Bedding down with the boulder-sized clams had worked before. I chanced a look over my shoulder. Sure enough, the darkness twinkled with stars - vicious little stars, shooting my way."

Falls is also very good at giving depth to her younger characters, capturing the feel of both what it is like to be that age and what it would be like to be living in the very different world of Dark Life, with Ty who has grown up in his undersea pioneer settlement and Gemma who grew up in her over-crowded Topsider world. And I absolutely adored Ty's younger sister Zoe who insists on keeping dangerous sea creatures as pets and who everyone who knows her tries to avoid making angry. In truth the only reason I rated this book 4 stars instead of 5 was that I felt the characterizations of the adults were not on the same level or depth as that of the younger characters. That said, I definitely want to read the sequel, Rip Tide, that's already been published.

Highly recommended not only for young adults but for anyone who likes well-written science fiction with engaging characters in a different setting.

Tomorrowland [Blu-ray]
Tomorrowland [Blu-ray]
Price: $24.87

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soars with wonder for the first half, but then stumbles with clumsy explanations and heavy-handed message in the second, May 29, 2015
This review is from: Tomorrowland [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) from a screenplay by Bird and Damon Lindelof (Lost, World War Z, Star Trek Into Darkness), Tomorrowland is something of a mixed bag. The first half of the movie absolutely soars with an ever-mounting sense of wonder and adventure, but then it stumbles and nearly falls under clumsy explanations and a heavy-handed message. It does salvage some of the earlier feeling towards the very end, but it's not enough to make up for the long wrong turn things seemed to take in the second half.

The film begins with a man named Frank Walker (George Clooney) talking to the screen as if either making a recording or perhaps talking to an audience we cannot see. He keeps getting interrupted by a girl's voice from off-screen, telling him how he _should_ be telling the story and suggesting that he start at the beginning.

Things then flash back to the 1964 World's Fair in New York where we see a 12-year-old Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) carrying around an invention - a prototype jetpack he's made from vacuum cleaner parts - that he hopes will impress one of the fair's sponsors, David Nix (Hugh Laurie). Nix is unimpressed and dismisses Frank's efforts as impractical. A young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) however, is impressed by young Frank's creativity and gives him an embossed pin with a large "T" on it, telling him to follow her when she departs with Nix on one of the fair's rides. Curious, Frank sneaks onto the ride behind Nix's party, is surprised when his pin is suddenly scanned and is even more surprised when the ride then mysteriously transports him from 1964 New York to a futuristic place called Tomorrowland. To say more of this scene would be a spoiler, other than to mention that Tomorrowland is truly a place of wonder.

Flash forward to our present, where we meet Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a tech-savvy and enterprising young girl who lives with her NASA engineer father Eddie Newton (Tim McGraw) and younger brother Nate (Pierce Gagnon) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Her father, however, is soon to be unemployed once the deconstruction crews finish dismantling NASA's last remaining launch station. Determined not to let this happen, Casey sneaks out at night and uses her knowledge and skills to sabotage the work cranes at the site to put off the day of reckoning. One night however she is caught in the act and arrested. Upon her release the next morning, Casey's stuff is returned to her, along with a pin she's never seen before but we have: the embossed pin with the big "T". When she picks it up though, suddenly everything around her changes and she finds herself in an open field outside of Tomorrowland. This much you would have learned from the movie's trailers, but what comes next you'll have to see for yourself. And it's really worth seeing.

It doesn't give away anything to say that Casey ends up tracking down the now-adult Frank in her quest of finding Tomorrowland. And that once she finds him, things really kick into high gear in a big way.

As someone old enough to remember both Disneyland's original Tomorrowland and the 1964 New York World's Fair, the thing that moved me the most about this film was how much it captured the feel of the time, the atmosphere of excitement, a sense of boundless optimism combined with a firm belief that the future was going to be a wondrous place where anything would be possible, and that science and technology would take us there. It was a time of great excitement: the space program was at its height, a man walked on the moon, polio was being eliminated, the heart transplant was achieved. Anything and everything seemed not only possible but achievable. Tomorrowland recreates that spirit wonderfully.

One thing I particularly liked was a scene where Casey goes to a scifi & pop-culture memorabilia shop called Blast From the Past which is a visual feast and treasure trove of scifi references in general and self-references to the film's various contributors. This is the sort of thing you really want the DVD for so that you can watch it again and again and try to catch or spot all of them (there are dozens). You know from the beginning that the writers are having fun when the proprietors (played by Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn) introduce themselves as Hugo Gernsback (legendary writer, editor and publisher regarded as "the Father of Science Fiction) and Ursula (for Ursula K. Leguin, legendary scifi author and winner of two "Hugo" awards).

The music score by Michael Giacchino (Up, Ratatouille, Star Trek Into Darkness) is very nicely done and really adds to the sense of wonder and discovery that permeates the best parts of the film. The cinematography by Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is nothing less than spectacular, managing to convincingly capture and convey the look and feel of everything from the 1964 New York World's Fair and current day Florida to the imagined futuristic Tomorrowland.

The thing that keeps Tomorrowland from being the film it could have been is when it starts trying to explain everything in the second half of the film. The explanations are clumsy and have a forced feel to them, and actually end up raising more questions than they answer as well as creating plot-holes that undermine a lot of what was built up in the first half. And then there's 'The Message' that is so thick and heavy it feels like it's being laid on with a cement mixer. The less said about any of this the better - I only mention it as a caution of what to expect from the film as a whole. To its credit, Tomorrowland does make something of a comeback at the end, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 3. I only wish that Bird and Lindelof had trusted their instincts - and their audience - more and simply let the film speak for itself.

Recommended for the first half, which if you're lucky, will be what stays with you after the film is done.

Woman in Gold
Woman in Gold
DVD ~ Ryan Reynolds
Price: $13.99
12 used & new from $13.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully shot, wonderfully acted film based on a remarkable true story, May 19, 2015
This review is from: Woman in Gold (DVD)
Directed by Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn) from a screenplay by first-time screenwriter Alexi Kaye Campbell, Woman in Gold is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted film based on a remarkable true story.

The film begins with a flashback to Vienna, Austria in 1907, where a young woman named Adele Bloch-Bauer (Antje Traue) is posing for a portrait being painted by the famous artist Gustav Klimt (Moritz Bleibtreu) who was also a friend of the family. The painting's actual title was "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I", but it became more famously known as Woman In Gold and was considered Klimt's greatest work.

Flash forward to 1990's Los Angeles, where Maria Altmann (magnificently played by Helen Mirren) is an elderly Jewish woman who runs a small shop. When she was young, however, her family was one of the most prominent families in Vienna, Austria. At least they were until Nazi Germany annexed Austria in the Anschluss of 1938. While going through the effects of her recently deceased sister, she comes across some letters relating to the loss of some significant works of art that were taken from her family by the Nazis, one of which was Klimt's famous Woman in Gold. For Maria, the loss was particularly painful as the woman in the painting was her beloved aunt Adele, who had died when Maria was still a young girl. Reading the letters, Maria sees what she feels is a chance for justice, not only for herself and her family but for other victims of the Nazis who had everything stolen from them. Unsure where to begin, she consults her circle of friends and ends up finding Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), a young lawyer who's just beginning his career with something of a stumbling start. Despite his reluctance to get involved with what he thinks is a fanciful tale, Randy soon finds himself drawn into Maria's quest. At first it's because of what he finds out about the painting's estimated value, but as time goes on, it's because he begins to feel the weight of his personal connection to the events of that time and place and that he's been given the opportunity to accomplish something that actually matters.

The musical score by Hans Zimmer (Interstellar, The Lion King) and Martin Phipps (The Flying Scotsman) is subtly evocative, enhancing but never overpowering what is transpiring on the screen.

Highly recommended.

thinkThin Protein Nut Bar, Chocolate Coconut Almond, 1.41-Ounce Bars (pack of 10)
thinkThin Protein Nut Bar, Chocolate Coconut Almond, 1.41-Ounce Bars (pack of 10)
Price: $15.99
6 used & new from $15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good snack to have around, particularly if you're diabetic., May 18, 2015
If you're diabetic like me, these thinkThin Protein Nut Bars (Chocolate Coconut Almond) are a good snack to have around. Each bar has 9g protein, 17g carbs, 3g fiber and 8g sugar, but they don't make my blood sugar spike. They're also taste pretty good. With 11g fat and 190 calories a bar, they're not however meant for losing weight. Otherwise, they're definitely worth giving a try.

The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America, 1607-1783
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America, 1607-1783
by Dale Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.88
35 used & new from $1.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful if limited way of getting a handle on colonial America for writing purposes, May 8, 2015
Dale Taylor's The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America From 1607 to 1783 is something of a mixed bag. It shouldn't be considered a full blown reference work as much as a simple but useful primer for writers needing suggestions or ideas on what to consider when writing stories in that particular time and place. The book is organized by chapters so that the reader can focus on a particular aspect of the period, but in fact the entire book is a comparatively quick and easy read. For that reason, I would suggest that anyone preparing to write a story or novel in a colonial American setting who isn't familiar with the setting start by using this book as a means of getting a good general overview of things to keep in mind, as it does touch on a number of things that a writer might not have in mind but nonetheless will need to know about if they're striving for authenticity.

Recommended as a good starting point for research, but not as a full reference work.

Boardwalk Empire: Season 5
Boardwalk Empire: Season 5
DVD ~ Various
Price: $41.60
29 used & new from $22.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half brilliant, half directionless drivel, but ultimately disappointing ending to a great series, May 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Boardwalk Empire: Season 5 (DVD)
I loved Boardwalk Empire, and so I found myself very much let down by this, the final season. The first four seasons were all great, a perfect combination of marvelous writing and outstanding performances by a truly remarkable cast. But something, I don't know what, went terribly wrong for the show when it came to wrapping things up in the fifth season.

So many things seem to have been bad decisions for no apparent reason. For one thing, they jumped ahead five years, from 1926 to 1931, completely bypassing a number of key events like the election of 1928, the stock market collapse of 1929, the death of Arnold Rothstein who was a key character in the show, and others. For another, the season was noticeably short, 8 episodes instead of the usual 12. Another bad decision was the attempt to maintain all of the previous major character plot threads but with no real attempt to show what had happened over the last five years, while at the same time weaving in the background story of how Nucky came to be the man he was, with flashbacks to when he was a boy growing up in poverty in Atlantic City and to when he was a young man first getting his start up ladder. The result gave things a very choppy feel with the show jumping back and forth between no less than nine plot threads and between past and present as well.

That said, however, I must add that the flashback threads are far and away the best part of the season, not only because of the high quality writing but also because of the superb casting of the younger versions of the key characters of the show. Nolan Lyons is a stand-out as Nucky as a young boy in 1884, conveying a boy determined to escape the poverty into which he was born but uncertain as to what the best path up is. But Marc Pickering is a marvel as Nucky as a young man in 1897, managing a highly credible version of a younger Steve Buscemi, down to his way of speaking and physicality. This in turn is complemented by John Ellison Conlee's younger and more physically vital version of the Commodore, with Ellison in turn managing a younger version of Dabney Coleman, down to the voice and facial expressions. Together, their performances are truly compelling.

Recommended for the parts that show Nucky's past and his evolution, and for the parts dealing with Joseph Kennedy, but with the caution that the rest is mostly an incoherent let's-just-kill-everyone-off disappointment.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 10, 2015 7:30 AM PDT

The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger
DVD ~ Johnny Depp
Price: $9.99
64 used & new from $3.47

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Johnny Depp's career will survive this. Armie Hammer... not so much., April 22, 2015
This review is from: The Lone Ranger (DVD)
Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger is decidedly a mixed bag. To be fair, it does have some great moments, which one would expect from the director and writers who made the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. To be equally fair though, there are even more "What were they thinking?" moments, as well as a number of action scenes where there was clearly plenty of money but not enough thought.

The film actually starts in a truly memorable and engaging way. A young boy (Mason Cook) dressed in a Lone Ranger outfit, visiting a carnival in 1933 San Francisco wanders into a side-show tent where the Old West is portrayed in a series of life-sized dioramas, one of which, titled "The Noble Savage", has what seems to be a statue of an old Comanche Indian standing in front of his camp. Except that it's not a statue, as the boy discovers when the statue suddenly looks at him. And begins to speak. We soon learn that the Indian is a very, very old Tonto (Johnny Depp). And he begins to tell his tale to his audience of one. And we listen along as well. Unfortunately, the movie is unable to sustain that feeling of wonder for very long, descending all too soon and all too often into slapstick and farce.

There are a number of problems with The Lone Ranger, but first and foremost among them is Armie Hammer's Lone Ranger. In fairness to Hammer (The Social Network, Mirror Mirror), most of this is not his fault as he was only doing what the script and the director were calling on him to do. Unfortunately for the film - and for us - that was to play the Lone Ranger as farce. Hammer's Lone Ranger is an awkward, annoyingly naive, bumblingly clumsy lawyer, younger brother to Dan Reid (James Badge Dale), the kind of stoically valiant real Texas Ranger the original Lone Ranger of radio and TV legend was. So when he finally asks Depp's Tonto what "Quimo Sabe" means, it is fitting that Tonto grumpily replies "Wrong Brother".

There are a number of creditable performances in the film. William Fichtner (Contact, Prison Break) is outstanding as Butch Cavendish, the outlaw responsible for John Reid's becoming the Lone Ranger. With his gaunt frame, scarred face, and quietly menacing way of speaking, Fichtner's Cavendish is just the kind of larger-than-life villain a film like this truly needs. He is never more scary than when he's smiling. James Badge Dale (World War Z, 24) is quietly effective as Dan Reid, a man who knows that his commitment to duty is taking a toll on his wife and young son. And, reminiscent of John Ford's classic The Searchers, knowing that his brother was the one that his wife (Ruth Wilson) truly loved.

Recommended for the good parts, but with the caution that one should not expect anything like the old epic radio & TV shows.

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